The rum baba is a delicate yeast based cake soaked in a rum syrup. I’ve also heard them called Sabrina cakes or sometimes called a Savarin cake depending on the shape. Savarin is shaped like a bundt cake while a baba is shaped like individual little buckets though I’ve seen them as small rings as well. For mine, I like to make them into individual little bunts as they’re beautiful especially when served with fresh whipped cream and some fruit.
How am I supposed to knead this very sticky, very hard to handle dough?
You’re supposed to either do it in a standing mixer or get very sticky my your hands. Yes, seriously.
What’s the verdict?
The best description I got of my first test was that it tasted like a wet ginger cake. This is not what a rum cake should ever taste like. So skip the spices, keep it simple.
Any other tips?
Yes! Firstly, it would be easier if you make double the syrup in test 2. You need to really really soak these babies. Second, don’t wait too long to soak them and don’t have them sitting around the fridge too long before serving. They’re best when freshly soaked.
This cake is referenced as being a more traditional version. It is comprised of two meringue layers only, without any sponge cake in between. The meringue, when dried properly, is crisp but not teeth shattering. Light and airy, this cake makes a great end of meal dessert. The buttercream here is also heavy in egg yolks which makes it rich, flavorful, and more delicate.
Do I really need to age the eggs overnight?
Not really. I have done this recipe both ways and had no issue with getting the egg whites to whip into very stiff glossy peaks. Will it help if you’re running into meringue issue? Maybe.
Golly gee, that’s a lot of sugar!
Don’t over think it. This is the perfect amount for this cake. Meringue baby!
I toasted all the hazelnuts in the oven at 350 degrees F for roughly 20 minutes. They were then removed them from the oven and allowed to steam in a towel for another 15 minutes. The skins were rubbed off as much as possible using the same towel. Yes you will have some skin stick but who cares! Hazlenuts were coarsely chopped reserving a few for decoration.
Two 9″ round pans were lined and greased with PAM. I would try butter next time as the PAM actually ended up burning. It didn’t hurt the cake too much but it made me uncomfortable to know that the edges of my cake were darker than ideal.
In the standing mixer, I whipped the egg whites until foamy and slowly added the half cup of sugar while continuing to whip. Then came the vanilla and the eggs were whipped to very stiff and glossy peaks.
While the eggs were whipping, I mixed together the remaining 2 cups of sugar, flour, and 1.5 cups chopped hazelnuts in a medium bowl.
Once the egg whites were ready, they were gently but thoroughly fold into the dry mixture.
The batter was divided evenly between the two pans and baked at 350 degrees F for 2 1/2 hours, checking periodically to see that it’s not browning too much. Seriously, I really mean it. 2 1/2 hours is the requirement. You shall bake for 2 1/2 hours. 2 1/2 hours is the length of your baking. In the meantime you can make the buttercream and clean up the mess you just made.
When done, cakes were removed from the pans and cooled fully on cooling racks, overnight, under a towel is best.
This recipe needs to cool for a while so I highly recommend doing it on the same day as the cake baking and refrigerating overnight.
Milk and sugar were added to a sauce pan and heated until the milk is scalded but not boiling as it may burn the milk.
While the milk was heating, in a separate bowl, I whisked the yolks until quite stiff and light yellow.
Half of the milk was poured into the yolks slowly while continuing to whisk the eggs. Then the egg yolk mixture was added back into the remaining milk and place back on the heat.
The eggs and milk were cooked, stirring constantly, until the custard thickened.
The custard was removed from the heat, strained to remove any potential lumps, and allowed to fully cool to room temperature. Ok now you can go to bed. This was the important part, now it’s cooling. It will wait for you to wake up tomorrow.
Once cool, butter was added a little at a time until fully incorporated, then the vanilla and cognac were added. Leave cocoa for later and don’t put away that mixer!
I placed a small dollop of buttercream on a cake board and place the first meringue cake right side up over the dollop. The buttercream helps the cake stay put on the board.
A generous layer of the buttercream was spread over the first cake layer and the second cake layer was placed upside down over the cream. Be sure your buttercream reaches all the way to the edges of your cake. When the second layer was placed I added a little more cream along the seam and smoothed it to the sides of the cake.
I kept the cake in the fridge while I prepare the chocolate buttercream. A small portion of the buttercream was reserved for decoration. To the rest, I added the cocoa and whipped until smooth, dark, and even.
Once the cream was ready, the cake was retrieved from the fridge and coated the whole cake in the cocoa buttercream. Decorate as desired. I used the remaining hazelnuts to coat the sides and a few whole nuts as the base for flowers and other decoration.
I don’t say this often but this cake is incredible and I would change nothing. It is crisp but light, the buttercream doesn’t feel like eating a stick of butter, and the whole experience is pleasantly boozy. What more could I want from a cake?